Physics Department News Archive

August 3, 2007

Summer Research 2007

Sioux Falls -- A number of Augustana College physics students are involved in research this summer. The department views research experience as an essential part of a undergraduate physics education and encourages as many students as possible to participate in summer programs.

This summer, six physics majors were among the more than 50 Augustana students participating in science-related summer research. Three physics majors participated in atomic, molecular, and optical physics (AMO) work, one was involved in particle physicis, one in chemistry, and one worked on a computer science project.

In AMO related work, Sharayah Carey (Cheyene, WY) was involved with the completion of a study of bond rearrangement in small polyatomic molecules begun in 2006. She completed the data analysis and calculated potential energy surfaces of methane and ammonia cations as part of a theoretical analysis of the rearrangement process. The initial report of this work was presented at the DAMOP 2007 meeting and a publication is being prepared.

Nick Smolnisky (Sioux Falls) began the construction of an apparatus that will be used to selectively fragment molecules using shaped ultrafast laser pulses. This study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is expected to continue for the next few years.

Nick and Sharayah received funds from the Northern Plains Undergraduate Research Consortium. Faculty involved in these two projects include Eric Wells at Augustana and Itzik Ben-Itzhak and Kevin Carnes at KSU. The experimental work takes place at KSU's Macdonald Laboratory, a large facilty for atomic, molecular, and optical physics research.

Nate Jastram spent his time in Sioux Falls building up the Physics Department Laser Lab as part of a recent award from the National Science Foundation. A number of experiments are now running and are being blended into the curriculum.

Russ Averin, a freshman physics major from Sioux Falls, was involved in particle physics research with Drew Alton. A description of that work, which Russ presented at FermiLab, can be found at this link.

Michael Todt, a chemistry and physics double major, worked for Dr. Brian Moore on computer simulations of ionic liquids using the parallel computing infastructure developed by Dr. Moore over the last few years.

David Huebner, a physics, computer science, and mathematics major from Fargo, ND, worked with Prof. Dan Swets of the computer science department on developing parallel processing techniques for graphics cards. David's work was funded by the South Dakota Space Grant.


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Summer Research 2007: (L-R) Nate Jastram, Sharayah Carey, Russ Averin, and Nick Smolnisky.

Russ Averin in front of Wilson Hall at Fermni National Accelerator Laboratory.

Nick thinks the experiment is going well.